Book Review – Natural Rest for Addiction by Scott Kiloby

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

I can now see my years of alcohol abuse were a symptom and not a cause of my suffering. I drank because I didn’t have a better way of coping with my feelings of alienation in life. I desperately yearned for something that would fill the ‘hole in my soul’, and I never considered the possibility this yearning was the actual source of my suffering.

“This is the very definition of seeking—to push away or cover up what’s actually appearing in favor of looking for something else that we think should be appearing.”
Scott Kiloby

Prudence

Continue reading

Four Spiritual Books That Don’t Suck

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

I must have read my first spiritual book at age 8. I remember choosing an encyclopedia of children’s bible stories from our local library. I grew up in a Catholic family, but neither of my parents were particularly religious. I had a strong faith as a child, and I’m probably the only person in my family who has actually read the bible, but by age 14, I’d completely lost this faith.

Zen

Continue reading

The Day in the Treehouse When I Closed My Heart and Embraced Shame

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

I must have been seven years of age when I first experienced deep shame. A group of us were playing soldiers in the woods, and it was great fun despite the wet and cold. I’d only started hanging around with these kids a few weeks before, most of them were older, so I still felt like a bit of an outsider. One of the gang was called Mark. He was the same age as me, but he got on my nerves because of his loud and aggressive nature.

Mark decided to wrestle me to the ground. It was autumn, so I ended up face-down in heap of wet leaves. This was typical shit for him, and he expected his victims to just take it as a joke. I was a puny kid, but I felt angry, and I started throwing punches at him. I didn’t even know how to form a fist, but my anger scared him. The other guys stepped in to break up the fight.

Treehouse Roofing
Continue reading

The Basic Goodness inside Every Human

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

I believe there is a basic goodness that exists inside of every human. It has nothing to do with religion, politics, nationality, or culture, and it there as much inside the atheist as it is the spiritual seeker. This goodness is what is left when we remove all the bullshit. It is not concerned with intellect, ego-masturbation, self-serving ambition, or being right, but with compassion, kindness, and humility. Some people refer to this force as a mysterious higher-self, but I think of it simply as my true self. I am agnostic when it comes to the existence of a God, but I would view this inner goodness as the best evidence for the existence such a thing.

2013-12-05 06.01.01

Continue reading

7 Things I Kind of Like About Myself

Latest posts by Paul Garrigan (see all)

Last October, I put out a post called 7 Things I Hate to Admit about Myself. I always feel better for opening up about my inner demons, but I may have come across as overly self-critical on that occasion – I’m guessing this because members of my family were contacting me to see if I was depressed. The truth is my life is kind of wonderful most of the time, and I don’t have much to complain about. In this spirit, I’d like to share 7 thing I like about myself (thanks to Vern Lovic for reminding me to do this post):

Timmy and Me at Khao Khitchakut

I Care About Other People

I’m not some type of goodie-two-shoes, but I do care about other people, and I try to help where I can. There have been long periods in my life where I’ve been incredibly selfish, and I manipulated others to get what I needed. I’m naturally a loving person though, but I don’t believe it is possible to be a drunk and genuinely care about others.

When I was 25, I ended up living in a dry house in London operated by the Alcohol Recovery Project. I was struggling in this program until my therapist suggested that I stop being such a self-obsessed asshole and start spending a bit more time thinking about other people (she said it a bit more diplomatically than this). I started doing voluntary work with kids who had severe learning difficulties, and it completely changed my outlook. By focusing more on the needs of other people, I developed this real sense of inner well-being – it made me happy. This experience changed my life completely, and it is the reason I trained to be a nurse.

These days I can judge my level of mental well-being by the amount of time I spend thinking about other people. The less I’m thinking about myself, the better I’m doing. I don’t have many any offline friends here in Thailand, but I do look for opportunities to help people – I suspect this benefits me more than anyone else.

I Try to Live an Honest Life

I don’t think there is anything in my life that I wouldn’t be prepared to talk about. Sure, there may be things like sexual fantasies that I’d feel embarrassed writing about on my blog (I’m kind of a prude), but there are no skeletons in my closet – not now. I’ve been very open about my life in recent years, and it means I feel able to look anyone in the eye. They do say that we are as sick as our secrets. When I was a drunk, I used to feel dirty all the time, but I don’t feel like that anymore. I do sometimes worry about being too open about my life, it might sometimes come across as whining, but I honestly think it has only benefited me.

I’m Skeptical about My Own Beliefs

I’m willing to entertain all types of crazy shit, but I always fall back to a skeptical position when it comes to my own beliefs. I used to believe that this inability to leave things alone was one of my weaknesses, but I now see it as an asset – maybe if I had trained to be a lawyer, it would have been more of a liability. My urge to pick apart my own beliefs means that I don’t become dogmatic and self-limiting in my worldview. I see it as a positive thing that my beliefs about many things have changed since last year and that they are likely to change again next year. I also like that my skepticism has nothing to do with what other people believe – I’ll be happy just to deal with my own bullshit.

I Always Land on My Feet

I’ve had some serious low points in my life – at one point I ended up living on the streets – but I always manage to somehow land on my feet. I can be a bit of a worrier, but I also know that no matter how bad things get, I’ll be able to recover. I don’t think there is much in life that can knock me down and keep me down.

I’m Comfortable with Uncertainty

I don’t believe that there is anyone on the planet who really knows what is going on. I spent most of my life looking for the answers to the big question, but I’m now happy to live with uncertainty. I adore the egocentric predicament because it is a reminder that we can never really know anything for sure – how can we claim to know things, if we can’t even be sure anything beyond our perceptions is real? I used to lie awake at night trying to figure out if there was a God, and afterlife, or a meaning to life, but I’m now content with just not knowing. It’s all a wonderful mystery, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

I’m Open to Magic

I broke free of my alcohol addiction at a temple here in Thailand called Thamkrabok. As well as the vow (sajja) never to drink again, they also had some other practices like the vow to believe in magical things – this is a tool to help people see the world in a new way.

I believe that we have been brainwashed into not seeing the magic in life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is some conspiracy organized by powerful wizards or anything like that. The reality is that life is full of magic (the mere fact of our existence is magical), but we get so caught up in our roles in life that we fail to see how magical it all is.

It seems that my moments of being in awe of the life and the universe are occurring more frequently. I’m open to the idea of magic, and this means I live in a magical world.